A Tale of Two Daily Columnists on Mendez, et al v. Westminster, et al

It's always great to see daily newspapers cover historical events, especially Orange County ones, especially those long-neglected like the Mendez, et al v. Westminster, et al. case. But there's a right way to do such coverage, and a lazy way, as we have long posited. And such nuances were on full display this morning in the pages of the Los Angeles Times and Orange County Register.

The scenario was the same: the paper's columnists went on a brief tour arranged by Chapman University's Sandra Robbie near Old Town Orange to visit legacies of the county's Mexican-bashing past. Los Angeles Times columnist Hector Tobar took the care of referring to the county's most-famous Mexican civil rights case by its real name, Mendez, et al v. Westminster, et al, and name-dropped Lorenzo Ramirez (at right), the brave El Modena father who was one of the plaintiffs in the case.


Tobar took special notice to call the case by its actual name, instead of the shorthand propagated by others. On his Facebook page, Tobar proudly pointed out to a friend, “I managed to get Lorezno Ramirez's name in, and also the all important 'et al' in “Mendez el al vs. Westminster.”

Orange County Register columnist Frank Mickadeit couldn't be bothered with such subtleties. Not only did he not refer to Mendez, et al. by its proper name, he couldn't even be bothered to mention the name of any other of the four families involved–not even Ramirez, who, you know, was the resident affected by the case in the city where he was taking the segregation tour. Instead, he talked about Volkswagen buses. Even worse, while Mickadeit mentions the Cypress Street barrio near Chapman, the current Panther doesn't bother to let readers know that residents there have long complained about the university engaging in its own Mexican-bashing by trying to push the residents out via gentrification. Will the office of Chapman President Jim Doti be part of Robbie's Mexican-segregation tour one day? It'd be funny and true if it happened, but we know the story…

Tobar is always a treasure to read; Mickadeit has published some great columns over the years, but has turned into a self-referential bore over the years. I never thought I'd say this–but bring back Gordon Dillow, Reg!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *